43rd Swiss Wine Festival in Vevay, Aug. 21-24
By Kendal Miller
Switzerland County Tourism
Organizers of Indiana’s 43rd Swiss Wine Festival invite the public to Enjoy our Grape Heritage this August 21-24, 2014, as they pay homage to Switzerland County’s Swiss wine-making roots. Held at Paul Ogle Riverfront Park in Vevay, the festival is a non-stop celebration that includes food, fun and festivities along the scenic Ohio River.
Named a Top Ten Festival by Top Events USA and the Fourth Best Food Festival in Indiana by Best of Indiana, the Swiss Wine Festival was recently nominated by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development as one of the American Bus Association’s 2015 Top 100 Events. Judging took place in June with winners to be announced in September.
“The Swiss Wine Festival president, festival coordinator, and the board of directors are excited about the nomination. We’d loved to see our event make this Top 100 list,” said Kendal Miller, Switzerland County Tourism executive director and Swiss Wine Festival board member. Switzerland County Tourism is the festival’s largest sponsor along with nearly 100 additional sponsors that make the top-notch festival possible each year.
Located in Switzerland County between Cincinnati and Louisville—and about an hour and half from Indianapolis—four days of non-stop activities, food, and entertainment attract wine lovers and visitors from across the country. With a population of around 1700, the people in and around the town of Vevay (pronounced Vee-vee) are experts at throwing a grand festival. The famous Wine Tasting Pavilion includes 12 Indiana wineries on site that offer tastings of their award-wines or purchases by the glass or bottle.
Visitors won’t be disappointed as organizers and volunteers have been working since the close of last year’s event to insure that Switzerland County maintains a high-quality family celebration that honors their winemaking origins and their notoriety as the Birthplace of the First Successful Commercial Winery in the United States.
“The festival fosters both Switzerland County past and future. Not only does it provide a positive financial impact for local non-profit organizations and for-profit businesses, but also helps drive economic development through tourism in Switzerland County,” said Miller.
The event is put on by volunteers, including the unpaid Swiss Wine Festival president and board of directors. A part-time paid festival coordinator also volunteer’s additional time and talents. While facets of the festival require professional labor, as many tasks as possible are completed by the volunteerism of the locals. In 2013, over $40,000 collected by the festival went to 43 local clubs and organizations that provided helpers to work the festival. Over $7,000 was given through scholarships and prize money for festival events with more than $180,000 going to Switzerland County for-profit businesses and/or individuals. The amounts do not include figures for money spent by tourists through gas, food outside the festival or lodging.
In 2014, visitors will find the traditional aspects of the festival firmly in place—the famous Wine Tasting Pavilion, Midwest Championship Grape Stomp, arts & crafts, Grand Festival Parade, riverboat cruises, beer garden, 5K river run/walk, poker runs, cornhole tournament, cheerleading competition, live entertainment, and more. Debuting in 2014 are new and bigger amusement rides by Burton Bros. Amusement.
Twelve Indiana wineries in the wine pavilion offer samplings of their award-winning wines with staff on hand to answer questions about their yield. Novice or connoisseur wine lovers can enjoy samples or purchase wine by the glass or bottle. Participating wineries include Buck Creek, Carousel, Cedar Creek, Ertel Cellars, French Lick, Harmony, Indiana Creek, Lanthier, The Ridge Winery, Traders Point, Windy Knoll and Winzerwald. Entrance into the wine pavilion is $15 per person and includes a souvenir wine glass and wine sampling opportunities. A beer garden is also available.
The event includes many varieties of cuisine to suit anyone’s taste so Miller recommends that guests come hungry and try a variety of items.
This year’s Swiss Wine Festival entertainment headliner is Diamond Rio, performing on Friday, August 22 beginning at 8:45pm. The event is free with a $5 gate admission with guests advised to bring lawn chairs. An autograph session with be held afterwards.
Additional musical performances throughout the four-day event include: Midnight Special, DiamondBack, After Midnight, Gringo Starz, Ken & Mary Turbo Accordions Express, CEF Michael, Madison Community Band, The True Voice of “Elvis”, MonkeyBone/Pinch-n-Roll, and the SKALLYWAGS. For the kids, “rock out” with Rockasaurus Rex, a 7-foot dinosaur who loves to read, write, and rock along with Captain Crunch & the Cereal Killers.
Solution Actions Sports will keeps guests on the edge of their seats as they bring out the best in both FMX (Freestyle Motocross) and BMX (bicycle motorcross) entertainment for all ages. The FMX Team defies gravity by jumping over 80 feet through the air performing some of the biggest stunts possible on a motorized machine.
A Swiss Wine Festival favorite, Mark Abbati as the living statue “JoyUNSPEAKABLE” blends movements and characteristics of the Masters of Silent Communication with various dances and statue poses.
Upholding a Swiss Wine Festival tradition, gates will open on Thursday, August 21 at 5:00 p.m. with the Little Swiss Polka Dancers performing at 6:00 p.m. Hours of practice by local youths had been undertaken to uphold this traditional aspect of the Swiss Wine Festival entertainment.
Festivities begin on Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. with the Grand Festival Parade in downtown Vevay. Locals and visitors line the streets of Main Street to kick-off the celebration utilizing the Enjoy Our Grape Heritage theme. Floats, marching bands, classic cars, and area businesses and organizations “put on the dog” to commemorate the festival.
A brochure with a complete list of activities and events is downloadable from the Swiss Wine Festival website located at http://www.swisswinefestival.org. Entry into the festival and parking is free on Thursday, and $5 per day on Friday-Saturday with children 5-12 years for $3. Youths under age five are free. Sunday admission is $4 for adults and $2 for youths 5-12. Youths under age five are free.
Festival times are Thursday, August 21 from 5-10 p.m.; Friday, August 22 from 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday, August 23 from 10:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; and Sunday, August 24 from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. There is a small parking charge near the festival grounds and limited free parking in downtown Vevay.
The Wine Pavilion is closed on Thursday, but is open Friday, 3-10 p.m., Saturday, 11a.m.-10 p.m., and Sunday noon-5:00 p.m. The $15 per person admission fee includes wine sampling opportunities and a souvenir wine glass. The Beer Garden opens Thursday for Happy Hour from 5:00-10 p.m. and will reopen Friday from 3:00 p.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Additional activities, performers, and events can be found on the Swiss Wine Festival website at www.swisswinefestival.org. For more information telephone 812-427-9463. Reservations for riverboat cruises can be made by calling 800-435-5688.
Information on lodging, local businesses and tourist activities can be found at www.switzcotourism.com or by calling Switzerland County Tourism at 812-427-3237 or e-mailing email@example.com. The Swiss Wine Festival and Switzerland County Tourism-Vevay, IN are on Facebook.